By the numbers
6-9 months: Time spent on preparation work that must be done before testing begins on a turbine at the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center.
2.8 miles: Distance off the N.J. coast Fishermen's Energy wants to place its turbines.
20%: Amount of U.S. power the Energy Department hopes to generate from wind by 2030.
A New Jersey wind power project is a step closer to working with Clemson's North Charleston testing facility after being chosen for federal funding.
Fishermen's Energy was one of three offshore wind projects to receive up to $47 million from the Department of Energy. The firm wants to use the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center at the Clemson site on the old Navy base to test turbines for the project.
Its goal is to place five turbines in the shallow ocean water near Atlantic City to harness wind energy, as early as next year.
"We celebrated for about a minute, and we've been working with the DOE to get all the documentation they require in order," said Paul Gallagher, chief operating officer of Fishermen's Energy.
The firm likely will submit the documentation this week, he said, and he hopes to finalize the contract for the funding by the end of the month.
The innovation center is prepared for the opportunity to work with Fishermen's Energy, said director Nikolaos Rigas.
"It's a great project in that we're going to learn a lot with them about these systems and how they're going to work out there, how to better control them once they're off the coast," Rigas said. "It exactly supports the model we've been talking about: that Charleston is a port city, so we're not just going to be working with equipment that will be placed in South Carolina, but we can bring in equipment that goes anywhere in the world."
The center is used in part to simulate long-term wear on a turbine before it's put into the field - or offshore. Its two rigs can test large turbines up to 7.5 and 15 megawatts.
Fishermen's Energy faced a hurdle last year when the N.J. Board of Public Utilities voted against the project, which could be the first U.S. offshore wind farm. The firm appealed the decision, but in the meantime is considering other power purchasers. The firm likely will have to tell the Department of Energy who it will be selling to by June 2015, Gallagher said.
"We'll be ready to do that, and we'll build this project. If our partners continue to be willing to participate in our project even if the circumstances look a little different, then we'll still be bringing our turbines to Clemson," Gallagher said. "That's the plan."
The center will likely begin preparations for Fishermen's Energy's testing this summer, Rigas said.
Gallagher said the company would likely send its turbines to the Clemson facility next year.
The Fishermen's Energy project is one of several in the works at the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center, ranging from energy storage to the development of power generation systems that can be deployed with the Marine Corps.
"We're going to be very busy the next few years," Rigas said. "We're excited about the work. It's going to be very diverse, not just wind-related."
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